Carolina Panthers spring blockbuster deal for top pick in draft

Carolina will likely target a quarterback with the top pick

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Carolina Panthers are on the clock.

After acquiring veteran quarterbacks each of the last three offseasons, the Carolina Panthers are ready to build through the draft.

In a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears, the Panthers traded up in the 2023 draft and will now select first overall.

According to reports, the Panthers gave up star wide receiver DJ Moore, a first and second round picks in this year’s draft, which were No. 9 overall and No. 61 overall, a first-round pick in 2024 and a second-round pick in 2025.

Obviously, the Panthers will have their choice of college players, but the consensus among mock drafts is that one of several top quarterback prospects will be the first player off the board, and that matches up well with the Panthers’ most glaring need.

Over the last three years, the Panthers have brought in veterans Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. None has started more than 17 games for the team over that span, and none could be considered a success.

The Bears, who drafted Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick in 2021, appear to have their quarterback of the future and were willing to deal the top pick for players and future draft capital. They got plenty from the eager Panthers.

Carolina has not tipped its hand thus far during the pre-draft process. Among the quarterback prospects who have impressed so far — most recently at the NFL Combine, which was held earlier this month — were Florida dual-threat Anthony Richardson, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis. Alabama’s Bryce Young has long been projected as one of the first quarterbacks drafted this year as well.

This will be just the second time in franchise history that the Panthers have drafted first overall. The last time was in 2011, when Carolina drafted their last star quarterback, Cam Newton, whose injury trouble late in his career led to the team’s quarterback shuffle the last three seasons.

The first pick will be used on Thursday, April 27 in Kansas City.